There is not much to be said about Iorras Aontaithe’s run to the semi-final that hasn’t been said before. The north Mayo men who looked to be in free fall midway through the Super League season last summer, pulled themselves together in the home straight and pulled themselves clear of the relegation quagmire. Since then they have gone on to show the true quality that the Barony men possess, navigating eight rounds of the FAI Junior Cup to arrive in this Sunday’s semi-final. In a sort of homecoming Iorras will welcome Ballymun United to the home of Mayo soccer, Milebush, on Sunday with a place in the final up for grabs. For Iorras it offers them a chance to add an FAI Junior Cup to the FAI youths cup they won in 2005, and puts them up there with Westport United from 2006 as the only Mayo sides to bring home the national junior title.
Iorras player/manager Eric Reilly has been taking it each game at a time in his side’s run to the final four and was still just looking at the 90 minutes ahead of his side on Sunday when he spoke to the Mayo Advertiser this week. “We have done unbelievably well to get this far already. Getting over Fairview Rangers in the last game was always going to be a tough one, but the reward of a home draw in the semi-final was something that helped us in the game.” A home game it may in name but it’s still the guts of a 100 mile round trip for the Iorras Aontaithe players to Milebush and back, but it’s further for Ballymun United and closer for the Iorras supporters according to Reilly. “We’ll be sleeping in our own beds the next night, where the Ballymun lads won’t be. We had great support in both Kinsale and Limerick in the last two rounds of the competition and this game will give us the chance to have even more support. Hopefully the people from Erris will all come down and support us on Sunday.”
Iorras picked up a few knocks in the Fairview game, but the two week break has been enough for his side to recover according to Reilly. “We shipped a few injuries in the last round, with Stephen Carolan, David Reilly, and Brendan Nallen all picking up knocks, but the break we have had has done us good and everyone should be fighting fit come Sunday.”
Home from home
This will not be the Dubliners’ first visit to Mayo in this competition this season after having beaten Manulla 3-0 when down to 10 men in Carramore in the fifth round of the competition, so Iorras have done their homework on the Ballymun men. “I’ve spoken to Mossy [Lally, Manulla manager] about them and he’s given us a good insight into the way they play. We also had a couple of lads watch them in action in the Leinster Junior Cup last weekend. They are a very good side, who can play the ball around, but what we have to worry about is playing our own game. We got this far by playing our football and not changing to suit someone else. As soon as you do that you can hand them the initiative. We’ll stick to our method and play our game on Sunday.”
A new horizon on the road for Iorras
It’s been a long run since Iorras took on fellow Super League side Ballyheane and beat them 4-0 in Carnenash in the second round of the competition, which has taken them out of Mayo thanks to wins over Snugboro United and a high flying Straide and Foxford United side, before Dublin Bus was dispatched after penalties. Pike were felled after a five goal thriller in Carnenash, which was followed up by back to back wins away to Kinsale and Fairview. Iorras have scored 17 goals en route to the final four, but since the Ballyheane game have only won each contest by one goal and twice on penalties. Making sure the defence is water tight will be the job of Shane Nallen between the sticks and he’ll probably have Henry Gaughan, Liam Donaghue, David Reilly, and John Gaughan in front of him. The midfield four on which so much will rest on Sunday will contain Paul Barrett, Anthony Mills, Brendan Nallen, and Jonathan Donaghue, while Steven Carolan and Michael Togher will be expected to lead the line up front. No matter what happens on Sunday on the field the Iorras supporters are sure to turn the home of Mayo football into Carnenash on tour, as their side are only 90 minutes away from glory.